Friday, October 18, 2019

The Road to Chiang Rai ---


The road to Chiang Rai - is under construction!

We booked our seats for the three-hour ride from Chiang Mai,Thailand to Chiang Rai, Thailand.  The VIP Green Bus was clean with comfy seats.  Due to the winding mountain road, using the small bathroom at the back of the bus was an adventure reserved for the truly desperate.  

Heavy rain and detours slowed us down even though construction crews were shut down for Thailand's Memorial Day in honor of the Passing of His Majesty the Late King.

   

When we finally arrived safely at Chiang Rai bus terminal #1, we were met by Beau (บิว) (pronounced as in Beau-ti-ful), her husband Joseph and their 1 1/2-year-old daughter Zo-E! (emphasis on the long 'E'). Our good friend Mike Kerychuk had introduced us through Facebook and suggested we meet them during our time in Thailand. 

What an amazing 48 hours we spent with them. Both Beau and Joseph are Thai citizens of the Akha tribe.  Despite the language barrier our hearts were knit together as they shared their heart for the Akha people who live in the mountainous regions of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Northeast India and the Yunnan province of China.

They reach out to the Akha people in several ways – pastoring a village church, outreaches to remote villages and children’s homes; running a dormitory for 12 students so they can attend the government school that is far from their village home.  Students are provided with room and board, tutoring, music lessons and Bible classes.

Our first stop was the Golden Triangle Park, the point in northern Thailand where the Ruak and Mekong rivers converge and you can look across into Laos and Myanmar.  The governments of the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Burma and Laos) continue to work to replace opium fields with coffee farms. 

As a bonus adventure, they took us to Beau's home village of Doi Chang, a popular tourist destination famous for coffee.  Beau's extended family are coffee growers.  We toured Doi Chang Coffee Farm, sampled various roasts, and stayed at the adjoining guest rooms while enjoying the cool mountain air and gorgeous scenery.  

  

Beau’s family warmly welcomed us into their home and served us a traditional Akha meal of locally grown organic vegetables, fried fish, rice, a tomato dipping sauce much like fresh salsa, sticky rice with peanuts, fresh fruit (longan and rambutan) and tea.  It was delicious and abundant. 

   

What a joy it was to meet these dedicated servants of Jesus and partner with them as they bring His light and love to their people.   “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  John 1:5 NIV.

The Journey Continues ~ Pat

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sweet Hour of Prayer - Myanmar



“… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”   2 Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬


In a nation where the population is overwhelmingly Buddhist; the city of Kalaymyo, Myanmar is almost evenly Christian and Buddhist. 

The concept of a prayer garden transfers easily from one religion to another as they co-existing in this friendly bustling city.

These beautiful individual chapels are available at no charge, providing Christian worshipers with solitude for prayer in a culture where personal space is non-existent. 

A morning spent in prayer and fellowship bonded our hearts in a deeper way, providing a tangible illustration that we are “many parts, yet one body”.

Part of our heart will always remain in Myanmar: "until next time".

Prayerful worship in any language: Sweet Hour of Prayer

            


The Journey Continues ~ Pat

(NOTE: Since we are travelling, with sketchy Internet, blogs are not always posted in real time or in chronological order.)



Sunday, October 6, 2019

Myanmar - Until Next Time

[DISCLAIMER: Due to our travel schedule, and sketchy internet service, blogs are not necessarily posted in chronological order.]

Fighting back a myriad of emotions, I gaze out the window as our plane backs away from the gate at Myanmar's Yangon International Airport.

Our time here has been rich and full. Brimming with new experiences,  new places and faces,  some disappointments and changed plans. Prayer, fellowship, good food and sharing God's Word. Mostly perfect weather with less rain than predicted at the end of rainy season. Scenic vistas that defy description.  New friends transformed into family.

The frequent query: "When will you return to us?" echoes in hearts.  Our sincere  answer: "When the Lord wills".

This is our current assignment our current norm.  Warm hellos, rich fellowship. Subdued yet hopeful departures with the refrain "Until next time" ringing in our ears, echoing in our hearts.

Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport  welcomes us and serves as a spring board to our next destination: Sri Lanka.

The Journey Continues ~ Pat







Wednesday, October 2, 2019

48 Hours in a Myanmar Village


We travelled for six hours on winding roads that carried us higher and higher into the lofty mountains of Western Myanmar. Breathtaking vistas were revealed at every turn. Our excitement grew stronger every minute. This trip has been in the planning for over a year and the time has finally come.

For the last two hours our hosts’ cell phone rang every 15 minutes.  The caller from the village always asked the same question, “How far are you?”  The villagers’ excitement stems from the fact that Pat and I will be the first foreigners to stay in their village.  The first foreigners most of them have ever met.

Pulling up to the village gate, we are met by the entire population of 234 people, dressed in their finest traditional clothes, carrying banners, gifts or a musical instrument. As soon as we get out of the van the music begins and the dancing starts.

After the festivities, we are guided to our lodging - the upstairs church quarters. In the room are two plastic chairs, a table and two wardrobes. Inside the wardrobes are woven floor mats, pillows and blankets to cushion our sleep on the universal bed - the floor.  The table overflows with all the provisions we might need for our stay, including bottled water and special snacks.  Our hearts overflow with their warm and loving welcome.

Village life is simple, with few cares beyond the basics of life. The biggest concern is for water during the dry season, and having enough food.  In this farming community, the villagers generally grow and eat a starchy corn (maize) and small black beans, along with any vegetables they can grow during the rainy season. They prepared special food for us:  rice was the main staple at every meal along with soup, a vegetable and either chicken or pork and of course tea or coffee. It was humbling to have the village families contribute from their food supply so we would have a bountiful table.

Our hosts are Anna and Khai Pi. We have worked with them for the past few years since we met Anna in Malaysia. She was our interpreter when we were living in Malaysia and working with the Burmese refugees.  One of the investments they have made in the village is to begin a coffee plantation.  Many of you donated last year to help purchase and plant the coffee trees. They expect the first harvest of coffee cherries (which contain the coffee beans) in 3 to 5 years.

It was a joy to walk through the village and see the newly built preschool building, provided in part by World Vision.  Anna and Khai Pi have been conducting preschool for 20 children in their house.  The village also has a government school Grades One to Seven.   We toured the classes, talked and prayed with the Headmistress.

On Sunday we preached at both the morning and evening church services.  Monday afternoon we held an eye clinic. It was during the eye clinic that we were informed we could no longer be in the village. There are still conflicts happening in the area and the local authority did not want to be responsible for our safety and demanded that we leave. We were able to see 30 people and gave out 15 pairs of reading glasses before hastily being relocated to a government approved guest house one hour away.

Although Pat and I, along with Anna, Khai Pi and all the villagers, were deeply disappointed that we could not remain in the village,  we accomplished a lot in those 48 hours. Our hearts are longing to return when the Lord makes it possible.

Stay tuned for more updates as our schedule and internet access allows.  Blessings - Gary








Sunday, September 22, 2019

Getting Around Myanmar


Depending where we are and what we are doing, getting around is always an important consideration.

Motorcycles and scooters are prevalent in Myanmar - so we might jump on with a friend to head across town to lunch.

Within the city of Kalaymyo, tri-shaws are common and practical.  Basically it's motorcycle with a custom-built side car.  One passenger faces forward, the other faces backward.  Packages can be stored under the seat and the roof works to shield you from either sun or rain.    (For those of you concerned about safety - they don't go very fast, and their three wheels make them quite stable.) (For you grandparents who immediately notice the little guy photo-bombing us - he is the son of Anna & Khai Pi - our friends and ministry partners.)


You can hire a vehicle - our driver Mr. Dal safely navigated the windy mountain roads.


And when it's not too hot or too wet - we prefer to use the original mode of transportation and walk.


Wherever your travels take you today, and however you get around - know that we appreciate you!

Blessings ~ Pat



Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Where in the World - Thailand

Welcome to Chiang Mai Thailand.    It's the largest city in Northern Thailand - 2 hours by plane from the capital city of Bangkok.   We've been here for about two weeks now. Settling in and adjusting to the 15 hour time difference. We found an English speaking church and are reconnecting with missionary friends.  We are also enjoying Thai street food.

Myanmar is our next stop - we will be conducting a Bible camp in a remote mountain village with Anna and Khai Pi and their adorable son.  They have asked us to teach on the Kingdom of God.  There will be an eye clinic, Sunday services, and nightly fellowship - can't wait for the last night when they roast a pig!

Then we fly directly to Sri Lanka for 10 days of eye clinics and revival meetings.  It's going to be a busy and fruitful month.

Your love and prayers and generous support is so vital, and so encouraging to us.

The Journey continues ~ Pat

Here's a brief video update - hot off the press!
Video not showing? click this link.


Thai Street Food

Thai Street




Monday, September 2, 2019

Sunday Greetings from Thailand

What a glorious Sunday we've had here in Chiang Mai Thailand.

The easiest way to get around the city is with a ride-share app called "Grab".  Similar to Uber or Lyft in America.  The app automatically translates your ride requests into Thai!  What a great use of technology.

Our driver dropped us off at "House of Praise" for Sunday morning service.  As we walked in we met another missionary that we had planned to connect with while here.  What a God-coincidence to have us choose their home church to attend today.  We shared a coffee after service and made plans for lunch later in the week.

After walking to a nearby mall to pick up groceries and have lunch we 'Grabbed' a ride back to our condo.

It's been a restful day - looking forward to the week ahead.

The Journey Continues ~ Pat